You may be asked to write a statement that will be used to consider funding for both incoming and continuing students. Sometimes they are called Diversity statements or Scholarship statements and many universities and programs ask for similar documents. These are generally merit based awards that are general in scope with the intention of creating a diverse group of graduate students and increasing the number of underrepresented students in higher education.
But sometimes the awards can have a very specific focus. For example, UCLA awards general Graduate Opportunity Fellowships, but also has awards for a student working in Armenian Studies, a student from Sweden and a student who is experiencing cancer. If your circumstances make you eligible for one of these awards then you will want to specifically tailor your fellowship statement to address the nature of the award. For the more general statement you can utilize some of the information from your Statement of Purpose and your Personal History Statement and adjust it to focus on diversity. Below is an example of the eligibility criteria from the University of California, Davis application for the Diversity award. It contains a good itemization of the kinds of information you will put in this type of statement.
- Demonstrated high potential and promise, with an interest in an academic career in teaching and research.
- United States citizens or permanent residents.
- Individuals from cultural, linguistic, and socioeconomic backgrounds who would otherwise not adequately be represented in the graduate student and faculty populations as demonstrated by:
A. Experience of situations or conditions which were an impediment to advancing to graduate study, such as the absence of a family member who attended college; matriculation in a school with poor financial or curricular support; having a physical or learning disability; or having worked long hours while attending school; OR
B. Academic research interests focusing on cultural, societal or educational problems as they affect educationally disadvantaged segments of society; OR
C. Evidence of an intention to use the doctoral degree toward serving educationally underrepresented segments of society.
There are many incoming graduate students deserving of merit fellowships and as an alumni of care you probably have compelling reasons why you should receive an award. However, even if you don’t receive a fellowship for the first year, you can apply for fellowships in subsequent years so writing a draft that you can update in the future is an excellent idea. Here you will find some sample Diversity statements that were submitted with applications to UCLA, UCSC, UC Irvine and UC Davis.